It’s been 551 days since the last time I was in a public indoor space without a mask on and even longer since the true start of the pandemic.
In this time, I’ve been almost completely reserved in my thoughts, experiences and beliefs surrounding every single influence Covid has had on our lives - at least outwardly with the broader population. To clarify, when I say I’ve been reserved, I mean I’m not posting on social media telling everyone to get vaccinated, or posting calling everyone who wears a mask ‘sheep’; I’m also not publicly sharing memes that clearly position myself on one side or another. I’m also sure you’re aware there have been way too many ways in which we’ve seen our lives influenced by all of this, more than I could count on all of my fingers and toes - so the number of possible thoughts, experiences, beliefs and opinions is quite high and ever changing. Please don’t mistake my silence for indifference or apathy, however; I too have opinions on how people have chosen to demonstrate their choices during this time - from using Lysol wipes on every piece of produce brought home from the grocery store, to those taking private jets to where ever they so choose and blatantly disregarding protocols.
I’m not “breaking my silence” today to share my opinions. There is enough of that. You don’t need one more person you went to high school with or used to work with, telling you what they think is “right” and “wrong”. Honestly, most of us don’t need that - and to clarify, I’m not shaming anyone for sharing their opinion or view points, but I do want to come back to this point at the end and share my view on how this may be impacting others. I want to hold space for all opinions, on all topics - pandemic related or not. That doesn’t mean I agree with them all - but I also know, especially nowadays, a lot of decisions we make and the subsequent viewpoints we either simply share, or on the more extreme end, try to shove down other peoples throats, are usually made from a place of true feelings of fear. Fear of a virus, fear of a vaccine, fear of Government policies overreaching, fear of losing our loved ones.
That’s the funny thing about the internet and social media though; while it’s a wonderful platform to share information - it gives quite literally everyone (who wants one and chooses to participate) a voice.
It can become daunting to distinguish up from down and to not fall into a rabbit hole of misinformation.
Let me pause myself here and take this opportunity to remind you of one important thing that we probably don’t think about enough, consciously: ALL sources on the internet from social media to Google-searches are based on some sort of algorithm - many of which are designed to feed you the information you already have a bias towards, or a propensity to support and believe. Social media in particular, has a tendency to feed very one-sided, black and white, “extremist” content in some instances. This becomes even more relevant with the fact that we can pick and choose who and what we follow. And while TV and news media is not algorithm based, there is still an opportunity (and likelihood) that the information you receive has a bias. It’s an unfortunate, natural occurrence that’s hard to avoid, in all honesty. It has to come from someone’s perspective…
Now, back to what I actually wanted to say… We have ALL had to make choices that are (hopefully) in our best interest - even more so now in this pandemic; whether it’s from a physical health standpoint, to mental health, to decisions we may not “love” but that we can live with, in order to be able to remain connected to certain family, friends or a certain way of life.
What I truly wanted to get across and share today all comes down to this - compassion.
I watched an IGTV video earlier highlighting that it’s not all black and white. I saw a post on Facebook the other day that read: “I’m over people acting like everyone with a mask is a sheep & I’m over people acting like everyone without a mask is selfish. It’s psychological warfare to divide us. Do your own research and do whatever you think is right, just don’t hate the people that disagree with you.” And before you start to scroll to the comments to point out whatever flaw you feel there is to this statement, just please take a moment to read the rest of what I have to say.
There are also numerous reports, like the CMHA and UBC report from May (2021) gathered from Canadians reporting 77% of adults feeling Covid has impacted their mental health (almost 5 months later, we could even assume this number has increased). And that’s not the only study with these findings… Did you know that numerous studies of disaster response around the globe have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma?
I wanted to share an excerpt from “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van Der Kolk MD:
“Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don’t need a history of trauma to feel self-conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers—but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens.”
This pandemic has caused at least 77% of Canadians, as previously mentioned, little t trauma. For those unfamiliar, little t traumas are experiences that leave someone feeling hopeless. They are distressing events that can be beyond a person's ability to cope, but they do not necessarily cause life-threatening or bodily-threatening outcomes.
When we are bombarded by opinions from media or internet friends & strangers that do not foster mental flexibility in any of their pandemic opinions, we cannot have a productive conversation or understanding of each other. And too often, it leads to people feeling threatened, attacked, unheard and unfortunately hopeless, causing little t traumas. I can further guarantee you, no one has lived everyone else’s experiences and knows what the “right” choice for them is in these trying times. The fact that we even believe there is a singular “right and wrong” decision and that everything can be simplified to black and white, yes or no, shows just how unaccepting and unaware of individual differences we really are. This doesn't just go for the pandemic opinions, but it's the most prevalent example presently.
The point I’m trying to make is, to just be aware: aware that the opinions you share are not always powerful in a positive way and aware that they can be damaging. “Well-functioning people are able to accept individual differences and acknowledge the humanity of others.” So in this continuously challenging time, let’s try to be aware, well-functioning, accepting individuals and remember there is a human impact to what you’re sharing. Deeper than you may realize.
But with social support and allowing others to truly be heard, instead of shutting down their opinions, you are providing the most powerful protection from stress and trauma. With all that said, before your next public social media post thinking “your way” is the “right and only way” - have some compassion and humanity and remember that everyone’s human experience is different; that right and wrong is subjective & relative; and remember that your decisions and words hold more power and influence than you may be aware of. And as Socrates said: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
In light of suicide prevention month, let’s all care for each other a little more, in spite of our differences.
I’ll be here, peacefully sitting on a fence & sending you all love and light
PS. If you’re reading this before September 19th and you feel like you need some support and love, I’m hosting a free meditation event at 6:30pm EST. Message me for details or go check out the link I posted on social media, to register.
PPS. Truly and honestly, the intention of this whole post was not for promotional purposes, just wanted to share it in case you feel you need it. <3